Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mumia Speaks: The Haiti Response: Guns Or Doctors?

Bois Caiman is site of the voodoo ceremony presided over by Dutty Boukman on August 14 1791 (1). It is widely accepted as the starting point for the Haitian Revolution. Some scholars, however, have deemphasized the role of the Bois Caiman ceremony in sparking the Haitian revolution or have even gone so far as to question whether the event even took place (2). Whatever the ultimate disposition of these claims, no one can deny that the historical memory Bois Caiman has political and spiritual resonance for many Haitians to the present day.

Dutty Boukman was the papaloa, or vodoun priest, who conducted the ceremony at the Bois Caiman in late August, 1791, usually understood to have been the opening of Haitian Revolution. Boukman prophecied that Jean François, Biassou, and Jeannot would be leaders of the slave revolt that would free the slaves of Haiti. Boukman is thought to have been of Jamaican birth.

Soon after the revolt began Boukman was apprehended by the French authorities and beheaded. The French publically displayed Boukman's head in a move caluculated to dispell his aura of invincibility that Boukman had cultivated (in keeping with the tradition of earlier Haitian rebels). While the rebellion was temporarily quelled in northern Haiti it continued in other parts of Haiti and soon became unmanageable.

The Haiti Response: Guns or Doctors?
[col. writ. 2/18/10] (c) '10 Mumia Abu-Jamal

As Haitians engage in their latest war for survival, it is instructive to see how certain neighboring nations responded to this crisis, for a nation's response unveils its motive, its fears and its hopes.

The U.S., Haiti's wealthiest northern neighbor, is a country which has had an outsized history of political, military and economic intervention, rushed in armed troops, like the 82nd Airborne; young men with weapons and war training, to a land facing a natural disaster from earthquake.

Cuba, although its next largest neighbor, is a country of modest means, with a GDP closer to African states than European ones. It sent 500 doctors, equipped with medical supplies, who helped to mobilize nearly 400 Haitian doctors, all graduates of their Latin American Medical School. The Haitians, like students from all over the world, trained for free in this Cuban medical school, now had the opportunity and chance to help their people.

Fidel Castro, a fervent writer since leaving office, wrote within days of the Jan. 12th earthquake:

Hour after hour, day and night, the Cuban Health professionals
have worked non stop in the few facilities that were able to stand,
in tents and out in the parks and open air spaces, since the
population fears new aftershocks.[3]
Cuban doctors worked to find and help their Haitian colleagues
who lived in earthquake ravaged neighborhoods.

And the former Cuban Head of State turned to Haitian
history: Haiti is a net product of the colonial, capitalist and
imperialist system imposed on the world. Haiti's slavery
and subsequent poverty were imposed from abroad. That
terrible earthquake occurred after the Copenhagen climate
change summit, where the most elemental rights of 192
member states were trampled upon.[4]

In a pithy end to his essay, Fidel summed it up thus:

"We send doctors, not soldiers! "[4]

(c) '10 maj

Source: "Fidel Castro on Haiti: Cuba Sends Doctors, Not Soldiers!" Labour & Trade Union Review, Feb. 2010, pp. 3-4. [London, Eng] 

*W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio*On Haiti, King, Obama, Race, Religion & Other Matters: A Conversation With The Honorable Rev. C.T. Vivian


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